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RLPA president Daly Cherry-Evans talks down strike, as peace with NRL looms

Players' union boss Daly Cherry-Evans is confident a deal will soon be done with the NRL.

Players' union boss Daly Cherry-Evans is confident a deal will soon be done with the NRL. Photo: AAP

Peace is on the horizon with players union boss Daly Cherry-Evans hosing down any threats of future strike action and expressing confidence a deal will be done with the NRL before the opening round.

The game’s governing body took a giant step towards reconciliation by cancelling its season launch, fearing players would boycott while refusing to engage in NRL promotions.

It made the event the first major casualty of the pay talks and marked an escalation from players refusing to deal with the league’s website or photographers.

There were also suggestions an early-season strike could be next, ahead of next Thursday’s kick off between Parramatta and Melbourne.

But Cherry-Evans insisted on Wednesday that was not the case.

Instead, the Rugby League Players’ Association president offered the first sign of hope a deal could be done in the next week.

“I don’t think I have heard a player say we want to strike. That certainly is a bit of a buzz word the media like to use,” Cherry-Evans said.

“There’s been some really great progress from the NRL and RLPA, getting in a room together for the last three weeks.

“Based on those conversations the last three weeks have been extremely productive, I have a really good feeling we have some good news coming in regards to the CBA.”

In an ugly and at times public war between players and head office, Cherry-Evans also took the step of praising the NRL.

“The NRL for the past couple of weeks has been fantastic, just making themselves available so we can try and get this deal done,” Cherry-Evans said.

“I don’t have too many doubts about how well it’s going, or anything activation wise.”

The Manly captain’s comments came as ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys announced a $62.9 million surplus from last season, up almost $20 million on the COVID-impacted 2021.

V’landys has also entered meetings this week in a more full-time capacity, joining with CEO Andrew Abdo in talking with senior players and union representatives.

That step has long been seen by many in rugby league as one that would help end the war.

The RLPA are happy with the NRL’s $1.347 billion financial offer, but want agreement rights on integrity matters, such as maximum fines and punishments.

It also wants autonomy over its own financials, including the $113 million offered for wellbeing, injury hardship and other programs and benefits.

Those matters have been harder to negotiate with limited middle ground, but Cherry-Evans said there had been progress.

“Any good negotiation is based on compromise,” Cherry-Evans said.

“The thing that can often get lost is if you are trying to interpret something through an email, it can be quite difficult. It doesn’t come through in the right tone.

“It’s just easier when conversations are had face to face. That’s why the last three weeks have been so productive.

“With that in mind we have seen some really massive strides.”

-AAP

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